transgender woman who was fired while preparing to undergo
sex-change surgery was let go in violation of a state
antidiscrimination law, the head of Colorado's civil
rights agency in Denver has ruled. Advocates
praised the ruling, saying it was the first of its kind in
Colorado and a sign that society has begun to better
understand transgender people.
Danielle Cornwell, 54, claimed in a complaint
filed in April with the Civil Rights Division that she
was fired in July 2005 because she was a woman and
because she had recently told the company she planned to
undergo gender-reassignment surgery. Originally known as
David Michael Cornwell, she had realized while working
for Intermountain Testing Co. that she is a
transgender woman, according to the ruling. She began
assuming a feminine appearance and also told her employer
she planned to change her name and dress in women's clothing.
The company, which uses X-rays and other methods
to test materials for the construction and
manufacturing industries, argued Cornwell was fired
because of a decline in business and because she had a low
In his August 21 decision, Civil Rights Division
director Wendell Pryor agreed Cornwell was fired
because she was a woman and said the evidence did not
support the company's claims. He said no other employees
doing similar work were fired.
"Given this, it appears that the [company's]
decision to discharge [Cornwell] was based on her
gender--female," Pryor wrote.
Intermountain Testing president Gary Bollerud
did not return a call seeking comment. His attorney,
John Husband, declined to comment as well.
The ruling means Cornwell and representatives of
her former employer will meet in October to try to
agree on a resolution, her attorney, John Hummel, said
Thursday. Cornwell said she would not seek to return to her
job. Hummel said such cases typically are resolved with a
"The well's been poisoned," Cornwell said.
Hummel, who works for the Legal Initiatives
Project of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender
Community Center of Colorado, said it was gratifying
that the agency did not find the case controversial.
"Maybe that's a sign of progress in society in beginning to
understand transgender people more than they had before," he
said. (Jon Sarche, AP)